GolfDifferent Strokes

Lydia Ko looking to complete her Olympic medal haul with gold in Paris

Different Strokes: Christiaan Bezuidenout’s 600k reasons to be happy for amateur winner Nick Dunlap

New Zealander Lydia Ko ended a win drought of nearly two years on the LPGA Tour when the 26-year-old captured the season-opening HGV Tournament of Champions at Lake Nona, her 20th win on the US circuit and putting her within touching distance of securing a place in Golf’s Hall of Fame.

And with a pep in her step going forward into the season, with the two-time Major winner (Evian in 2015 and Chevron in 2016) looking to add to those titles, Ko has identified a special target for her year: another Olympic medal.

“I think the Olympics was probably one of my biggest goals going into this year. I played in the 2016 Rio Olympics as the number one ranked player, and I think there was a lot of pressure internally. I was able to come off with a silver medal.

“In Tokyo [in 2020] I was like, ‘I already have a medal, so what have I got to lose?’ With that mindset I was able to play better and more aggressively and have a really good final round and won a bronze medal.


“In my perfect fairytale story I would win gold [in Paris] and have the collection of three different medals. Sometimes it’s literally a fairytale, and the Olympics is the best of best of each country, the best athletes there, and to be able to represent your country is just a win itself.

“I’m going to enjoy it and Le National is very different to the other two golf course we played. It’s going to be really tough, and I think the level of golf that is going to be played that week to win the medals on both men’s and women’s side is going to be very high.”

Bezuidenout has 600,000 reasons to be happy for Dunlap

Who remembers which player got the winner’s purse when Shane Lowry won the Irish Open as an amateur?

The answer, of course, is Robert Rock, who lost out to the Offalyman in that tournament at Baltray in 2007 but walked away with €500,000.

New question. New answer. Nick Dunlap’s fairytale win in the American Express Championship on the PGA brought with it a punched ticket to the Masters and also an exemption on tour until the end of 2026 ... but the 20-year-old, as an amateur, was unable to accept the winner’s cheque.

Step in Christiaan Bezuidenout. The South African was solo runner-up behind Duncan and consequently pocketed the $1.5 million “winner’s” pay-day. His bonus, a shade under $600,000, with the prize for second place €915,600.

In fairness to the Springbok, he showered praise on Dunlap’s achievement: “It’s amazing. Actually, I [first] heard his name last year when he won the US Amateur. He’s obviously a hell of a player and hopefully he can be out on the PGA Tour soon.”

By the Numbers: 2/2/2

There are two Irish players in the field for the Ras Al Khaimah Championship in UAE on the DP World Tour: Tom McKibbin and Pádraig Harrington; Shane Lowry and Séamus Power are competing in the Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego, California; and Leona Maguire and Stephanie Meadow are in the field for the Drive On Championship at Bradenton, Florida on the LPGA Tour.

Word of Mouth

“As a kid, you kind of whack it around all over the putting green and every putt is for a chance to win, whether that’s a PGA Tour event, the Masters, the US Open. And to have that putt, I took a little bit longer than I normally might, and just take in the moment and nothing’s for granted. I may not ever have that chance again, and I just want to embrace it” – Nick Dunlap, on his life-changing win as a 20-year-old amateur in the American Express Championship on the PGA Tour.

On this day: January 23rd, 1994

Little did he know it at the time, but Andrew Magee’s win in the Northern Telecom Open in Tucson – where he compiled rounds of 69-67-67-67 for an 18-under-par total of 270 which gave him a two-strokes winning margin over Vijay Singh, Loren Roberts, Jay Don Blake and Steve Stricker – would give him his fourth (and last) win on the PGA Tour.

Magee, 31 at the time, and seemingly with his best years ahead of him, pocketed a pay-day of $198,000 and earned a two-year exemption on tour for an impressive win in the desert where a bogey-free final round saw him fend off all comers.

There would be other notable achievements in Magee’s career, including becoming the first person on the PGA Tour to record a hole-in-one on a Par 4 (on the 332 yards 17th at the Phoenix Open in 2001, when his tee shot hit the putter head of Tom Byrum who was in the group ahead and squatting down assessing the line of a putt). But, sadly, no further wins to add to his CV.

X-Twitter Twaddle

Jon Rahm, quick to praise Nick Dunlap’s win in the AmEx.

Phil Mickelson – another LIV player – continuing the trend. Lefty was the last amateur to win on the PGA Tour, at the 1991 Northern Telecom Open.

Ben An responding to Pablo Larrazabal after the Spaniard questioned the very low scoring at the AmEx.

Know the Rules

Q: During the first round of a 36-hole stroke play competition which was scheduled to be played on one day, a player, having holed out at the third hole, plays a practice putt on the third green. What is the ruling?

A: There is no penalty. The permissions for practicing in Rule 5.5b override the prohibition in Rule 5.2b in that a player is allowed to practice on or near the putting green of the hole just completed even if they will play that hole again on the same day.

In the Bag: Lydia Ko (HGV LPGA Tournament of Champions)

Driver: Ping G430 LST (10.5 degrees)

3-wood: Ping G430 Max (15 degrees)

5-wood: Ping G430 Max (18 degrees)

Hybrid: Ping G430 (4) (22 degrees)

Irons: Ping i230 (5-7), Ping Blueprint S (8-9)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (46, 48, 54 and 58 degrees)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Tour Type SSS TG6

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x